Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Year: 1 Sam 27-30 for Mar 28

I Samuel 27,29, and 30 easily can be shown to put forward some imponderables about David.

We should remember, as the reader would, that David himself has had sufficient knowledge of his future from 16:13 onwards. Samuel anoints him. Goliath confirms him to the nation. His battles confirm him (23:11-12); the women of Israel confirm him (18:7-8). His father confirms him (17:37). Jonathan the king's son confirms him (23:17). The king, in contradiction to his own actions, confirms him, multiple times (24:20-21; 26:25). The Philistines confirm him, both directly (21:11) and later, indirectly (29:9).

How then does David come to the conclusion "I will perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines" in 27:1? While there, he will personally distinguish himself to his lord Achish the Philistine, and will be all prepared to kill his own countrymen, according to his own brag (28:2), in the service of Achish, to whom David will express his loyalty (29:8).

Is not the text asking us to shake the cobwebs out of our heads and ask "what is going on here?" The king that the nation asked for comes to a point in which there is no guidance from God for him (cf. 28:6,15). The king Samuel says God has chosen next is in the army of Israel's enemies (29:2), and is prepared to fight in a battle against Israel. Israel is going to lose that battle (28:19), and its king finds that out ahead of time. How? Well, first he tries to find out from God, but God does not "answer him" (28:6). He finds that out in a forbidden way, a way that he himself had forbidden in a saner frame of mind (28:3). But the truth that he learns from the wrong place is truth about his death, the death of his sons, and Israel's defeat. Nothing is right about this whole picture.

Providence comes into play. The Philistines overrule one of their leaders, and nix David, sending him ostensibly back home. Then, incredibly, on his way back, he finds out that his own city has been captured and taken captive by a third group, a traditional Israelite enemy, the enemy that Saul should have taken care of ... the Amalekites. And this is definitely a turn no one expected -- especially that not a single person was killed (30:2), nor a thing of value taken as spoil (30:19).

David can't lead himself, and is in the wrong army. Saul can't lead himself, and needs guidance so badly that he resorts to the supernaturally bad -- and yet, God brings about, both with both king and future king -- both with their will, and against their will -- what He has appointed to happen (1 Sam 13:14).

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